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Disproportionality? What that Really Means for Our Children in the Child-Welfare System.


When thinking about protecting children and families through the social work lens, individuals tend to think about removing kids from home and newborns born addicted to drugs. Rarely protecting them from the system meant to help them is what comes to mind: especially black families and families of color. Disproportionality is the theme social workers may often hear, which may be simultaneously heard with systematic racism and bias. Well, what do I mean when I use the word “disproportionate ?” African American children are being placed away from their families in the child welfare system more than white children, even when they have the same problems with living. Consider this; more than two-fifths of the foster care population are black children; however, black children are less than one-fifth of the nation’s population. That means more white children are able to stay with their parents during intervention than black children or children of color. As a social worker in the child welfare system, black mothers are viewed as less trustworthy and irresponsible than their white counterparts. Often institutionalized racism and racial disparities are not considered, which the children have no control of. I propose assessing the systems in which many black families are in. Let’s look into the bias and prejudices within how the system operates. Who is involved in the decision making? Are they considering racial imbalances within the system? Are black parents being properly advocated for? Or simply looked at as a “product of their environment?.” I propose assessing how social workers can intervene at the prevention stage versus the crisis stage.

References Roberts, D. (2014). Caseworker files - race and class in the child welfare system | failure to protect | frontline. PBS. Retrieved October 4, 2021, from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/fostercare/caseworker/roberts.html.

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